Zingo is a Dhaka-based re-commerce company run by a small team of tenacious people. Founded in 2017 as Humpty Dumpty, later rebranded to Zingo, the company has built a successful second-hand smartphone marketplace from scratch.
It all started with two friends dropping out of college after they realized they would have to start their own business early to earn enough money to buy a private jet someday.
In an interview with Future Startup, Naim Ahmed, co-founder, and CEO of Zingo, shared his journey as an entrepreneur and how Zingo came into being, and the strategies and serendipities behind its success days. Zingo is a fascinating story of determination, precocity, a critical trait for young founders according to Paul Graham, and the conscientiousness of its founder Naim Ahamed and its founding team.
Here are the three lessons that we learn from Zingo:
Harland David Sanders, the founder of KFC started his business at the age of 65. At the age of 55, Dr. John Pemberton sold the first glass of Coca-Cola at Jacobs' Pharmacy in downtown Atlanta.
Chinese billionaire Jack Ma started Alibaba at the age of 34 after failing so many times in life.
On the other hand we see successful entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffet who started early.
From all of these stories of successful entrepreneurs, we can say one thing for sure: There is no right time to start your own business as long as you have a great business idea and you are willing to give your everything to make it a reality.
While many young people want to be entrepreneurs but lack the courage to take the first step, Zingo co-founders dropped out of college to pursue their dream to buy a jet.
“We used to watch tons of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs Biography videos on the internet. I showed my father an article of Suhas Gopinath, India’s one of the youngest CEOs, and told him that I wanted to be like him. I asked my father to give me some money so that I could start my web development firm.” Naim Ahmed, the co-founder, and CEO of Zingo said in the interview.
To start their own business, he and his friend started a web development company in Rajshahi. In 2015, Bangladesh Govt. instructed that every educational institution should have its website. So the two friends started pitching their idea to schools and colleges of Rajshahi city and soon they started to make a decent amount of profit from the business.
Eventually, they started Humpty Dumpty, which was later rebranded as Zingo, a platform to buy and sell second-hand smartphones. As they had no knowledge of the market they asked the founder of sellanycar.com, a Dubai-based company that allows people to sell their old cars within 30 minutes, for guidance. His assistant helped them by giving suggestions.
Later with guidance from Waseem Alim, the founder of Chaldal.com, and Mandeep from Cashify, they grew their business and gradually built a market for second-hand smartphones.
This journey of Zingo shows how tenacity can lead a person toward success. All you have to be brave enough to take the first step towards your dream. As Mark Twain said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started”
The path of an entrepreneur is anything but easy. It is like living a cycle of euphoria and despair. There’s no guarantee that your business will succeed.
Entrepreneurship requires constant effort. Maybe that’s why not many people can be entrepreneur.
The founders of Zingo went through the same experience. In 2019, the company ran out of capital.
“We did not take any salary for months”, said Naim Ahmed describing how they survived at the time. “We were running the company with zero capital in 2019.”
When asked if he felt discouraged at that time, Naim Ahmed replied, “No. I believed that I would become successful one day.”
They continued after raising a small amount of funding from Waseem Alim, CEO of Chaldal.
With hard work and constant effort eventually Zingo started to generate profit and bounced back. By the end of 2019, their revenue reached tk. 80k per month. In March 2020, Zingo generated tk. 9 lakhs in revenue and around 2700 second-hand smartphones were traded through this platform.
Now Zingo has a team of 8 people. An additional 25 people work in the logistics part of Zingo.
When asked to share the lessons he has learned so far as an entrepreneur Naim Ahmed replied, “You don’t need a lot of investors to grow, one investor should be enough to put you on the right trajectory. Similarly, you don’t need to be right all the time, you need to be right once.”
When Zingo ran out of capital in 2019, Waseem Alim, CEO of Chaldal.com, invested in Zingo, which helped Zingo to continue its operation. Ahmed also said they figured out a model to generate revenue in desperation.
“We used to just sort the information according to the location, a hyperlocal model. For sellers from Mirpur, we would inform buyers who have shops in Mirpur. We started to charge a commission for that. If a buyer would take five leads, he had to pay tk. 2000 in advance. That is how we started to generate revenue. It was during May 2019. By the end of 2019, we had 130-135 buyers.” said Naim Ahmed.
Naim said the rapid growth of Zingo was fueled by two factors. Zingo could offer a lower price to the buyers compared to what was available in the market as Zingo could buy the products from sellers at a competitive price. Sellers were willing to accept a relatively competitive price in exchange for all the benefits they were getting such as pickup from home, fast processing, and instant cash payment, etc.
Around that time Zingo raised another small amount of investment from the founder of Chaldal. By the end of 2019, they started to generate revenue worth 80k BDt per month.
Naim said of his experience that once you have a healthy business, raising money should not be a challenge for you but it is important you have people who are willing to support you in your difficult days, which is the hardest.